Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons unexpectedly banned bacon, pork chops, ham and every other kind of pork from the three meals served each day to federal inmates in 122 federal penitentiaries.
Officials with the Bureau of Prisons insist that they made the decision without giving any thought whatsoever to religious accommodations for prisoners, reports The Washington Post.
Instead, the administrators say they are responding to the results of a prisoner food preferences survey. They just want to make prisoners happy, see, and America’s 205,723 federal prisoners don’t want to eat bacon and other pork.
“Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years,” prison bureau spokesman Edmond Ross told the Post.
Ross also claimed that pork has become more expensive and that hardened federal prisoners “are more health conscious these days.”
Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said Ross’s assertions are hogwash.
“I find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,'” Warner said.
Warner also defended pork as an inexpensive meat that is good for you.
“We’re nutritious,” he added. “A boneless pork chop or loin is a very healthy alternative to lots of other foods.”
Near the end of its story, the Post does broach the delicate fact that America’s federal prisons routinely provide alternatives to pork for observant Muslim and Jewish prisoners who want to follow halal and kosher diets.
Ross refused to say whether an increase in the number of Muslim (or, sure, Jewish) prisoners who choose to avoid pork for religious reasons played any role in the decision to stop serving pork altogether.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, welcomed the pork ban. (RELATED: CAIR Tries To Ban Professor’s Speech On ‘The Islamic Threat To America’)
“In general we welcome the change because it’s facilitating the accommodation of Muslim inmates,” Hooper told the Post.
The spokesman for the Muslim civil rights group also told the Post — which contacted him about pork in prisons — that opponents of Islam would suggest that federal prison officials have caved to pressure from Muslims.
“It will stoke the fires of Islamophobia based on the usual conspiracy theories,” Hooper predicted.
Wide-ranging blogger and University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse suggested that what is likely happening here is that the federal government is simultaneously attempting to streamline its menus and also accommodate prisoners who refuse pork for religious reasons.
“Prisoners don’t like bacon?! That’s about the most ludicrously unbelievable thing I’ve ever heard the government say,” Althouse commented.
The more prisoners a single menu can feed, the more cost-effective prison food service is, she also suggested.
Federal prisoners will still have access to pork rinds and precooked bacon in prison commissaries — but they’ll have to pay extra for the delicious privilege.
Inmates in federal hoosegows with no ready cash will be able to enjoy turkey bacon when it occasionally comes up as the daily slop.